September 26, 2021
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Elder abuse rising in So Co

  • Purple flags represent elder abuse

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 21, 2019

Each purple flag you see in the photo represents one case of elder abuse in the Cotati and Rohnert Park area in 2018. In Rohnert Park and Cotati there were 530 cases of abuse reported. 

Elder abuse in Sonoma County continues to rise even though it is one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. 

Prevention and intervention in elder abuse and neglect by caring community members is vital to the health of Sonoma County, where residents age 60 and older account for 25 percent of the population. Last year calls to Adult Protective Services and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman totaled 6,460, the highest of any year and a two percent rise from 2017.

Don’t miss the signs of abuse. Have you noticed an older adult who may need more support or someone leaving their home less often? Do you notice that the elder’s appearance is being neglected or not eating well or even having more visitors than usual?

If you have a loved aging person in your life or a friend you are especially close to check often that they don’t lack basic amenities. Do they live in a cluttered or filthy living environment.? Are there unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in their behavior? When they go for a doctor visit, are they being examined for unexplained sexually transmitted diseases? Is the senior being taken care of by a caregiver and do they interact or do they isolate the elder? If you are a caring family member check through the living quarters to see if there are any unpaid bills, new credit cards or some increased cash withdrawals? Many times it is a family member that abuses the senior so watch for tattletale signs such as being harassed, coerced, intimidated or humiliated when a senior is out shopping with another person.

Calls to local elder abuse reporting hotlines can be made 24-hours-a-day and can be confidential and anonymous. To report concerns about elders living in homes or apartments in the community, call Sonoma County APS at 707-565-5940 or 800-667-0404. For concerns about residents of skilled nursing and residential care facilities, call the Ombudsman at 707-526-4108 or 800-231-4024. For more information about how to recognize and report elder abuse, visit